Go Hitchhiking… Ride without money!


Go Hitchhiking… Ride without money!

Hitch hiking | travel | tour | distance | destination

Did you ever met people asking for a ride, with their thumbs up, while holidaying with your family; or found yourself helplessly begging for help to reach your lodge! Such ways of travelling to reach nearby college, signal, petrol bunk, service or railway station or any other place is called  “hitchhiking.”

Hitchhiking is a non-formal travel means, asking strangers for a ride in their vehicles to travel a distance that is either short or long. But the main purpose is to reach your destination with little cost. Hitchhiking became common during the years of Great Depression in US when people had very less job options and started migrating towards other parts of the country to find employment.

During those times the Federal Government gave its acceptance for hitchhiking when Federal Transient Bureau was handling the migration of unemployed persons. Federal Transient Bureau gave food and shelter to the transients till the year 1936. But problems started when some persons who posed as hitchhikers started robbing and even murdering the drivers. There were instances where drivers committed crime on hitchhikers.

Hitchhiking is about travelling without paying money that may involve some interesting discussions with the driver. The discussions may involve telling the purpose of travel, or something interesting about your place and people, or about worldly things. Sometimes the driver may feel happy just for having the company of the new person.

But in some parts of Central Asia they may charge some amount, especially if the hitchhiker is a foreigner. In one movie “It Happened One Night” female hitchhikers exposed their legs to get a ride. Many authors have even written books on hitchhiking such as Jack Kerouac who immortalized it by his book “On the Road”, and Roald Dahl wrote in his book “The Hitchhiker” the stories one may hear while giving someone a ride.

Hitch hiking in some countries

Hitchhiking gestures vary across countries, and a normal gesture in one country is taboo elsewhere. Cultural differences or obscene meaning associated with it is the reason for that. Different gestures are used to hitchhike. For e.g., in US, one may gesture with thumb up; in South America they may show back of one’s hand with the index finger pointing up; in Israel, one may hold one’s fist out with the index finger pointing towards the way; in India, people may gesture in an US way or may wave one’s hands, moving their down facing palm up and down.

In China, you cannot consider covering many miles hitchhiking and trying it in Tibet is also banned. In Thailand, using left hand gesture is of no use as its only use is for bodily uses. People in Italy may consider showing of thumb as an offensive sexual sign. In Greece nodding of one’s head sideways means “yes”.

Hitchhiking in France’s Mediterranean coast is pleasurable, where you’ll find many cars and friendly people. In countries like Germany you have to ask people for ride instead of standing and making gestures, exceptions for this are the countries such as Australia or New Zealand. For hitchhiking two is the maximum limit of people.

Hitchhiking is both an adventure as well as a challenge as it involves extensive travelling with comfortable and rough, good well as bad experiences. In UK, thousands of students involve in it and travel thousands of miles; Durham University started a competition, where one who travelled farthest without spending any money was awarded the title of best hitchhiker.

Hitchhiking is a beautiful experience if one is not rushing for some job or some work. It is a feeling of freedom as one  will be moving in an unconventional way, and having a close encounters with nature, people, society and the world. Those who just do it for the sake of adventure go all out for it and find summer as the best time.

In India many go for adventure tours or  visit holy places. Hitchhiking is possible in any part of the world and connecting with people is the key that will make your hitchhiking more easy and pleasant. If you are smart enough you can complete the whole trip hitchhiking. But make sure you know some important things beforehand to make their trip safe and enjoyable.

Hitchhiking Tips:

  • Take precautions and be prepared to walk all the way if you don’t get a ride. Don’t be demanding if one doesn’t agree. In some countries hitchhiking or standing for the same in highways is illegal.
  • Get one good map which shows important things such as places for boarding and lodging in more detail.
  • Scan your ID (visa and passport, if travelling internationally) and keep a soft copy in your e-mail.
  • Keep bank account & customer care number of your credit and debit card before you leave; if it is lost you can call and immediately freeze your account. Have enough money, but do not carry valuables.
  • Keep flash light, good bright clothes to suit that climate, things for protection against rain, and sufficient food and drink. Stealing is the left out option if all food options vanish.
  • Keep a tent and a soft handy sleeping bag if you don’t get place for sleep. Keep your luggage and money close to you. Wash your clothes where possible or keep some extra clothes. Can get bath in public toilets or in pools. Travel light.
  • Pack some pepper spray or penknife if you meet a shady person, on or off the road. Women should wear either wedding ring or some ornament of marriage, and have a ready-made line of words ready that makes the other person know that her spouse is waiting at the destination. Take a front seat as back seat will have child lock and in case of problem it would be difficult to come out.
  • Make a sign in a cardboard by permanent marker for making them read and understand as you are literate and safe for a ride.
  • Find a good place for hitchhiking such as near gas stations, picnic areas, border of town that is away from bus stops and city limits in the direction in which you have to move.
  • Dress yourself neatly, don’t drink, and try not to get drenched; avoid looking like a jailbreak or like freak. Confirm where they are going before taking a ride.
  • Make an eye contact and keep a pleasant smile. Talk with the driver in a friendly way.
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